BFI Predicts Fertile Future… (…and Launches Skillset Academy)

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In the week that the BFI takes over from the UKFC as the leading body for film, it has been doing its best to deliver nuggets of uplifting and forward-looking news. The best titbit is that the BFI’s UK production funding will rise from £15m to £18m, an increase which it says is evidence that savings are going back into film.

Also significant is the appointment of five new BFI governors (Josh Berger, Warner Bros; James Purnell, former cabinet minister; Beeban Kidron, filmmaker; Lisbeth Savill, media lawyer; and Matthew Justice, producer).

Commenting, BFI director Amanda Nevill, said: “Today heralds a new chapter for the BFI and a new era for film, which I believe will be one of the most fertile, exciting and successful times for British film. Building on the experience and expertise of both the BFI and the UKFC, we now have an historic opportunity to create a single voice and cohesive vision for film. The new era isn’t about an organisation, it’s about film, film makers and audiences, and that will be our focus.”

Reinforcing the point, this week also saw the BFI oversee the official launch of a new training academy that is designed to help develop the vital craft and technical skills needed on Britain's film sets.

Called The Skillset Craft and Technical Skills Academy, the new venture is a collaboration between Skillset - the Sector Skills Council for Creative Media - and Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College. Working with studios and other film-based companies, the Academy is aiming to become a centre of excellence in film, providing apprenticeships and qualifications for people working in key departments such as camera, grips, lighting, sound, animation, editing, runners, hair & makeup and costume & wardrobe.

Launching the Academy, Chair of the Skillset Craft and Technical Skills Academy, Iain Smith said it has “an ambitious objective: to harness, support and develop British craft and technical talent at a time when the industry is undergoing enormous change. It will be at the cutting edge of technical excellence, supporting the continuation of what we most excel at in this country."

The Academy says it will provide qualifications for both industry professionals and new entrants “to provide them with an advantage when competing for film work”.

Commenting, the BFI’s Amanda Nevill said it was important for the sector to look at ways to build a more sustainable British film industry. "For us to make films that people want to see, on both a domestic and international level, we have to ensure that the quality of our filmmaking remains world class - that we are keeping up with technology, harnessing new skills whilst building on the successes of recent years. The Academy will have an enormous impact on the success of the film industry, building the foundations of craft and technical skills for our current and next generation of filmmakers."